Last week we had an intern in our office at Podium.Me HQ, an intern all the way from the US. It was very exciting for all of us – particularly because the lovely Work Experience Girl (or WEG) had ended up spending most of her time mixing with other international students studying here.
Cue lots of hilarious exchanges about linguistic differences and potential mix ups – randy, fannypack, snog, pants, ditsy v dippy, and so on.
She was in our office when the news broke about Margaret Thatcher’s death.
‘Do you think there’ll be a riot?’ she asked.
‘I really want to see a riot while I’m over here.’
For the most part when I meet people visiting from abroad I recommend the main things to see in London – Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Covent Garden, the National Gallery.
If they’ve got more time I suggest they do less conventional things in London, mostly food-related like Borough Market and Brixton Village.
But anyone who is here for a good measure of time very importantly needs to GET OUT OF LONDON and see what the UK is really like, taking in Stonehenge, Shakespeare country, Bath and Jane Austen-land, Yorkminster, Oxbridge, the buzzy-y northern cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, and on north to Edinburgh and beyond, if they can, on their way.
I’ve never really thought about the ‘English’ experience including less usual things.
Like going to a riot.
So we took it upon ourselves to give our WEG a crash course in unspoken Englishness. We trained her in the ways of making good, strong and regular cups of tea.
We played her excellent music by bands who had never made the charts across the Atlantic. Mostly Pulp.
And on the Saturday before Thatcher’s funeral, I tweeted our WEG to let her know that there would be a protest in Trafalgar Square, and, it being such a loaded subject for protest, there was potential for anarchists to rock up and smash things, and maybe start a riot.
‘Just don’t get kettled,’ I advised her.
‘Kettled?’ she replied.
‘Google it.’ (Even our policing is linked to tea).
Sadly there was no riot. We felt like we’d failed her in some way, so we played her some Kasabian instead.
Can anyone think of any other typically English but not in the tourist guides things to do for the foreign visitor?